It’s time to recognize that there is no good time of year to skimp on leg skin and hair care…
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I take better care of the skin on my legs and I shave more often in the winter than I do in the summer. Possibly an unpopular practice, sure, but if there is one thing I cannot stand, it is two-day-old stubble trying to fight its way through my tights or pressed back into itself as a result of tight jeans. Amiright?
I may be in the minority here — it seems like everyone thinks you only need to take care of your legs when you’re wearing skirts, shorts and dresses because, well, more of your leg is exposed than when you’re rocking fleece-lined, heat-tech tights — but I’d argue that a little extra body hair when it’s hot out and no one is touching your legs is preferable to the aforementioned torture chamber combo of dry winter skin + prickly hair + pants. And in case you’re a skeptic, know the Internet has my back. There are many sub-reddits dedicated to getting to the bottom of why leg hair hurts after wearing tight pants and hosiery, and Urban Dictionary even has a definition for what we in the know like to call “Skinny Jean-Leg Hair Syndrome.”
This is not a joke, people! It’s time get on team Winter Leg Care > Summer Leg Care with me. Or at the very least, it’s time to recognize that there is no good time of year to skimp on leg skin and hair care despite that whole “oh, this? I’m growing it out to keep my legs warm while I hibernate this winter” approach to self-care November through March.
Exfoliate like your life depends on it.
Not really, but exfoliating is key to keeping your legs happy and healthy this winter. You already know how skin works — cells die, new cells generate, circle of life, etc. etc. — which means you know that dead skin need to be taken care of so that new, healthy cells underneath can breathe and see the light of day. If you don’t, dead cells build up on the skin’s surface and leave you looking like an alligator and feeling like sandpaper.
What’s more, the thing about dead, dry skin is that it’s incredibly uncomfortable. That itchy feeling you’re always fighting during cold months? It’s your skin trying to get your attention so it can tell you to moisturize. All of which is amplified when friction and static come into play, both of which are uber-present any time you slip into a pair of fitted pants. Trust me, those patterned tights aren’t as cute when you’re obsessively trying to scratch through them to get to the dry skin underneath.
SO! Exfoliate. Make sure that dead skin doesn’t have a chance to stick around. Depending on how sensitive your skin is, feel free to exfoliate as often as every day (every few days if your skin is reactive). My favorite approach is the good old dry brush pre-shower because it genuinely feels awesome, gets my blood flowing and is a formidable opponent to dead, dry skin. More of a scrub girl? Opt for a sugar-based one (salt may be too drying) that also contains hydrators like coconut or almond oil so it backs a two-for-one punch of exfoliating and moisturizing the skin.
Hydrate like your life depends on it.
This one is for real. You should be moisturizing your legs in one way or another Every. Dang. Day. Do it in the morning before you get dressed. Do it again at night before bed. Do it after you shower. Do it while you shower. Do it during your lunch break. I don’t care when or how, but you’ve gotta be upping the hydration game come winter or your poor legs will die of thirst and then you will be a healthy skin murderer. Can you live with yourself after something like that?
Not only will proper moisture keep the skin on your legs not-murdered, but it’ll also go a long way when it comes to the health of the hair on your legs, should you choose to forgo shaving/waxing/removal of all kinds.
You see, a lot of the discomfort you feel during winter is due to the fact that when you put on tight pants, leggings, tall socks and tights, they’re actually pushing any existent leg hair in the opposite direction of its natural growth. This means that as long as you’re wearing those bottoms, your leg hair is forcibly being bent “against the grain.” It’s like when you wear your hair in a high, tight ponytail all day and when you finally take it out, it’s as if your hair hurts. Same thing is happening with your legs: after being stuck in an unnatural position, your nerves and skin sensors start to act up.
Unfortunately, this is kind of inevitable if your pants are tight enough and your hair is long enough to poke through the skin’s surface. But a really easy way to make it less painful is to keep your leg hair conditioned. Yup, I said it. Condition your leg hair. No, you don’t need to (nor should you) use the same stuff you’re putting on your head every few days to keep it soft and detangled. Instead, you want to make sure that whatever you’re using to hydrate your skin is also doing something for your hair and follicles to soften ‘em up and make that whole pushed-in-the-wrong-direction thing more bearable. (The softer the hair, the less painful.)
If you’ve found a body lotion or heavy-duty cream or balm you like, stick with it. Products like this work well, sink in quickly and leave skin moisturized. But if you want to really do work on your skin and hair, consider a body oil instead. Since oils are rich in essential fatty acids, they’re kind of like vitamins for the hair and skin of your legs. They’ll keep both moisturized, hydrated and soft, which will leave you free to wear all the hair-pushing tight pants you want.
Your life doesn’t depend on it, but hair removal is a nice finishing touch.
If that’s your thing, of course. If not, do you. But if you’re like me and can’t stand the feeling of stubble dragging against your tights every time you move or do not wish to suffer from Skinny Jean-Leg Hair Syndrome, remove the stuff. Not only will it mean not having to deal with the pain of hair follicles pressed in the wrong direction for hours, but the right razor will also help remove the top layer of dead skin (bonus exfoliant!) and prime your legs to receive moisturizer or oil.
And if nothing else, just think about how fun it’ll be to have secretly awesome-feeling legs in the dead of winter. Take a minute to look around come February and I’d bet good money you’ll be able to spot at least a few poor souls trying to bore holes through their pants to get at that patch of dry skin. Just smile to yourself, thank the body oil gods you remembered to moisturize that morning, and rest assured that when you peel off those tights tonight, your leg hair will not scream in protest.
+Want to show more love to your legs? Check out these articles here!